The beginning of a new school year is a great time to start new routines, new activities and new approaches to things! With school heading back this week or next week around Australia (though, belatedly in some parts of Queensland!) it’s a great time to get your kids excited about reading!
Even better, most of these tips will work at any time – making reading exciting is not limited to one part of the year!
10 Ways to Get Kids Excited About Reading in the New School Year
1. Make Silent Reading Part of the Homework Routine
Silent reading is a great way to settle children before they do work – teachers often use it as a circuit breaker when children come back into the classroom after a break. And it’s easy to do too – you just need a place to curl up and a good book.
Silent reading could be used before homework, or as a break in the middle of it. Set a time (between 5 and 20 minutes would work, depending on the age and enthusiasm of your child) and let your child read any reading material they like. If your child doesn’t have any homework, then you can still use silent reading to keep them in their routine.
2. Talk to the Teacher About What You Can Do to Encourage Reading
Arrange a time to talk with or contact your child’s teacher or English teacher. Let them know that you want your child to be excited about reading and ask if they’ve got any tips you can use at home. They might even have a list of books to recommend to you!
3. Read More than Home Readers
In the early years of schools, children often come home with home readers. While these are great for practicing reading skills, the stories aren’t always interesting and the vocabulary can be quite limited. There’s lots of great picture books and early reader novels which might appeal to children more, so make sure that those options are available for your child.
4. Make Books Available
The best way to display books for children is with the covers facing out – children are more likely to pick up a book when they can see the cover. While this might not be possible in your home, it’s easy to put together a small selection of books in a basket with the covers facing out. Put these books in an easily accessible area for your children – near their bed, their reading nook or their homework area would work great!
5. Join or Visit the Local Library
If you’re not a member of a local library, now’s a great time to join one. Children will be learning about good library behaviour at school, so going to the local library regularly is a great way to reinforce those behaviours. Library visits can be built into the weekly routine, along with other weekend or after school activities, which reinforced the idea to your children that books are important.
6. Encourage Borrowing at School
Different teachers and different schools take different approaches when it comes to library borrowing at school. Some insist that students borrow a book, others may not even make a weekly library visit (and that changes all again when high school comes along). Encourage your child to borrow from the school library where all the books are bought especially for the children who attend the school. Also encourage them to talk to the school librarian who knows where all the best books are. If your student’s class doesn’t borrow during class time, find out if the library is open before or after school.
7. Make or Buy a Special Library Bag
Most schools insist that children have a library bag for borrowing to keep books safe and help students carry books too and from school. It’s a good idea to have a separate bag for local library borrowing, so that you can keep library books separate. If you’re crafty you might want to make a special library bag for your child or children. Or you might like to buy a special bag and add a few special touches to it. If you are making a bag, try to include a pocket for the library card to keep it close to hand!
8. Start a Series of Books
A new school year is a great time to start a series of books. Series are wonderful things to maintain excitement because you don’t need to be reintroduced to the world or the characters each time. The Percy Jackson Books, Ranger’s Apprentice, Beast Quest, Famous Five, Fairy books, Harry Potter and CHERUB books are just some of the wonderful series out there. Ask at your local library, ask your school librarian or ask your child’s teacher for more recommendations!
9. Expand Your Reading Material
Think outside the square when it comes to the books your child reads. If they only read fiction, they might enjoy reading some non fiction. There’s also magazines and reference books which are extremely popular with kids. And don’t forget comics, or graphic novels. The area of children’s graphic novels has exploded over the last ten years, and there’s some wonderful choices out there. I highly recommend Babymouse and Lunch Lady!
10. Talk About Books!
Talk about reading with your child. Ask them about the book they’re reading, ask them if it’s a book you should read. Talk about your favourite characters and books. Make reading a normal part of your daily conversation with your child so they know that reading for pleasure is important to you.